Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ju Hao Xiao Long Bao (聚豪拉面小笼包) @ Novena Square 2 [Singapore]

Moral support was needed in my sister's confrontation with the staff of California Fitness at Novena Square; this was before the unfortunate news kicked in with the gym's immediate closure. After she was done, hunger kicked in and we decided on a xiaolongbao meal after much deliberation!

Place; Ju Hao Xiao Long Bao - a collaboration with MOF. Nowadays, i made it a point to ask if i could take photographs and in this instance, permission was granted.

Strangely, i was stopped abruptly by the waitress after i took the above signboard at the entrance. Her stand was that taking food would be fine but other than that, the others would not be permitted.

Hence, i think it's fair for me to indicate right here that if MOF / the restaurant is uncomfortable with the photos i have uploaded to this post, please feel free to contact me at a6729@singnet.com. In the meantime, let's proceed with the dishes we had. :)

Juicy Steamed Pork Dumplings - there were two options; five pieces or eight pieces. As my sister, my mom and i are mindful of our weight yet greedy to try the salted egg dumplings, deferring to the lower quantity sounded favourable.

Chockful of sinfully oily meat juice, i didn't find the xiaolongbao exceptional and felt that the taste was generally flat without any surprising element that had the effect to wow us.

Steamed Salted Egg Dumplings - identified by the yellow tip on one of the dumplings, this was better flavoured than the steamed pork dumplings. The only issue was that with all the fad surrounding salted egg, these didn't give us the right off impression it was salted egg. Put it simply, it was just saltier than the normal xiaolongbao.

Wanton with Vinegar & Chilli Oil - the redness wasn't glaring enough and the taste didn't meet up to the expectation of the similar-named dish at Crystal Jade. However, the chef was extremely generous with the diced up garlic and they made the wantons very appetising! It might not as good as Crystal Jade version but honestly delicious in a class of its own.

Prawn Fried Rice - The similarity to the famous one at Din Tai Fung stopped at the appearance (and the name); it was rather bland and the rice had a harder texture. No, it didn't break our teeth although we can find the difference.

Red Bean Pancake - Aside from the thick crust which resulted in a less than satisfying bite, i must say the spread of roasted sesame seeds played an important role in enhancing the aroma and the chef didn't scrimp on the red bean paste! Those who are afraid it would be cloyingly sweet, i call you it wasn't.

Osmanthus Jelly Cake - now, this was so pretty; i initially didn't have the heart to eat it. Served cold, the texture was soft enough for me to pop one right into the mouth so that i can slowly savour it and wait for the burst of fragrance from the osmanthus flowers and Chinese wolfberries! Yummy!

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Location
10 Sinaran Drive, Novena Square 2,
#01-47/48/51-53, Singapore 307506

Map

As above.

Order List
As above. The pricing was clearly indicated so i am not going to put down the pricing i paid for each dish (fact is, i lost the receipt). Anyway, the bill is subject to GST and service charge. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Last Day of My Relaxing Six Days, Five Nights Bangkok Trip!



An early morning excursion the day before took a toll on me and i slept till 9am. I could have delayed the "wake-up" till much later but there's an important appointment i had to keep. 

Our last massage session at Urban Retreat! Experience was so amazing; i regretted not extending my stay just so i could indulge in the relaxing kneading, bending, cracking for an hour or two a day.

A short distance from Urban Retreat was a row of shophouses and one shop stood out for its orange facade. It was actually a massage parlour, Siam Massage, that i had patronised twice this trip. If you have been following my day by day itinerary, you should have recalled the instances when masseurs asked for tips after the sessions. Same shop. 

Rate card for your reference in case you have spent most of your money on shopping and couldn't quite afford the pricier massage at Urban Retreat.

Anyway, my purpose wasn't so much to check out Siam Massage; objective was to visit 7-11 convenience store as my friend had requested for a particular brand for seedless dried tamarind known as Tamarind House! 

Had to draw Alex's attention away from KFC as we have not had breakfast and i know the bugger had been wanting to have some fried chicken. I couldn't understand why we need to have fast food when we are in a country filled with delicious local food.

The Westin that's opposite Terminal 21 had a supermarket called Top; another place where you can get bigger tubs of Tamarind House's tamarind products. 

After our last meal (omelette rice again) at Pier 21, we descended to the level where Mount Sapola was located. My most expensive purchase this trip; ultrasonic aroma diffuser that only cost about S$180 for the large one! 

Had to drop by Gourmet Market @ Terminal 21 as i couldn't find the other stuff that my friend had requested. No choice; she would have to make do for other brands. The good thing was that Gourmet Market had someone dispensing sampling for tamarind products and that's helpful! 

Back to Park Plaza Hotel for a final bath before we dragged our luggage out to check out. The concierge helped to call for a cab after our very smart Alex affirmed immediately to paying 500 baht! My conversation with him was a maximum of 500 baht! 

Whatever the case, i endeavored to be at peace when i am overseas and let's now focus on the international currency notes pasted on the ceiling of the cab. 

Reaching suvarnabhumi airport.

Giveaway sign - the many parking airplanes with the purple tail. The national airline of Thailand; Thai Airways, which also happen to be the airline we were taking for our flight back to Singapore.

Arrival - after taking our luggage out of the boot, the cab driver asked for Singapore dollars so that he could add to his "collection"! I am so happy we had Texas Chicken at Changi Airport on Day One as i managed to break my tens into twos. 

Checking in - the customary photograph of the yaksha demon warrior statue. Some of you might remember they used to be at the arrival hall and there's an article here explaining their move to the departure check-in area instead. 

Last meal in Bangkok - BURGER KING!!!!!!!! I gave in to Alex's demand. 

These boxes of mini Bangkok biscuits were delightful and i would strongly suggest you take some samples and judge for yourself! I bought a few boxes thinking i would buy more at the shop nearer to my gate on the other end. Spare me the lugging around at the humongous airport.

Time then was 3.30pm and our flight was at 4.25pm; almost an hour later. I dumped my stuff with Alex near our departure gate and told him to wait for me while i purchase more of the Bangkok biscuits. Time then was before 3.50pm and i was hardly two steps away from Alex when i heard an urgent last call message for our flight! 

Why such an early "last call"!? Because we had to bloody take the shuttle bus to the taxiway where our plane was parked! Did i get my Bangkok biscuits? No, i didn't get enough for friends who asked me to buy for them! 

@#$%%$#$%^$#$%^ - i was pissed. 

What's more; the flight was delayed and it eventually departed at 4.40pm!!!! It didn't help either that it was rather warm in the plane.

Mood changed for the better after i got my meal! Remember it was quite delish except for the raw tasting green beans. 

The beauty of the clouds when the sun set.

An explosion of light pollution and the declining plane altitude signify our return back to the place we call home (and some others call little red dot); Singapore!

Luggage collection after splurging at the Shilla Duty Free Shops; i was honestly frustrated for being deprived of this shopping enjoyment back in suvarnabhumi.


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Additional Postings for the Day (click to read more)
  1. Urban Retreat

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Coffee Hive - Coffee Kaya Toast Set @ Novena Square 2 [Singapore]

It dawned on me that whenever i go out with my mum, we would eventually end up having a cup of kopi and this particular day was no exception.

Louise recommended Coffee Hive not because she had tried it before; she remembered a long queue at its order counter at lunch every single time she was in the vicinity and assumed the stuff must be pretty good. 

Knowing that my family members can help to share the fats, i went with the coffee kaya toast set that came with two half boiled eggs, coffee / tea (kopi for me) and two slices of cut toast with option for butter / butter sugar / kaya / peanut butter spread. 

My kopi was slightly on the bitter side which didn't quite meet my cut but my sister was happy with her teh c. Soft boiled eggs were perfect; put it this way, there's a high chance Alex would be having a second serving if he were there.

Verdict was split on the kaya butter toast. Kaya wasn't cloyingly sweet with butter adding a creamier touch and the bread was toasted just right; featuring a soft-crisp texture that was charred nicely. My issue was on the thickness; either thin down the toast or double the kaya and butter! 

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Location
10 Sinaran Drive,
#B1-88, Novena Square 2,
Singapore 307506 

Map
As above

Operating Hours
7.00am to 9.30pm (Daily)

Website

Menu
As above. The menu was extensive and Louise gathered that the other items might have resulted in the long queue. Nevertheless, she stands by her teh c.

Price
Coffee Toast Set - S$4.20

Monday, July 25, 2016

So Pho - Halal Vietnamese Cuisine @ Nex Shopping Mall [Singapore]

I have decided - Vietnam is a country i would add to my wanderlust list before the end of 2017. For someone who had an initial bad impression of Vietnamese cuisine, i am pleased to announce (to fans of Vietnamese food) that the craving for Vietnamese food has been on the recent rise.

It just made perfect sense for me to plan a trip to Vietnam (either Hanoi or Saigon) but before then, i shall have to make do with Singapore-based Vietnamese restaurant; for example, So Pho! 

With seven branches in Singapore, i don't understand why it took me so long to pay my first visit and even then, this patronage was totally unplanned as we simply didn't know what to eat Nex and just happened to stroll past So Pho.

Hunger had resulted in the stomachs putting up a protest and i thought we
ordered quite a lot for just two persons; especially with the fact that Alex is hardly a big eater.

Homemade Lemongrass Tea
I have had better one; this was too lightly flavoured and i admit i am a sucker for sweeter and thicker lemongrass tea that bursts with therapeutic aroma. 

Mixed Appetiser 
Consisted of notable Vietnamese appetisers (prawn cake, summer roll and fried spring roll), this mixed appetiser would be the one to order if you want variety. 

Summer roll (that translucent wraps) was not popular with us as the minty taste can be a major turn-off as it did to the both of us. Fried spring rolls contained vermicelli and minced meat; however, i very much prefer the local vegetarian spring rolls with turnips! 

Note - these are not drumsticks.

'Bone' was actually sugar cane which added a delectable sweetness to the prawn cake that was like a rich prawn-based fish cake. Very satisfying as our teeth tore off the 'meat' from the 'bone'.

Noodle with Grilled Chicken and Spring Roll
I absolutely adore the dry noodles in Vietnamese cuisine even though the soup-based pho was the one attracting much higher attention. Time to mix everything up! 

The overall feel i gathered was that the dish was on the sour side with a strong nutty after flavour that veered towards a slight bitterness towards the end. The lemongrass chicken, sadly, would have been better if the infusion of lemongrass was intensified. 

Mango with Glutinous Rice 
Thought for a moment that the waitress had wrongly passed me the wrong dessert as the cut pieces on top did appear to be more beancurd like than mango cubes. 

Served warm, it was the highlight of our meal although the mango could have been sweeter. Key selling point was definitely the green glutinous sticky rice drenched in a pool of creamy milk and sweet gula melaka that culminated in a delicious dessert i find irresistible! 

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Location
23 Serangoon Central, 
#B1-15, NEX Mall,
Singapore 556083

Map

As above.

Website

Menu
As appended above.

Price
Homemade Lemongrass Tea - $3.20
Mixed Appetiser - $10.80
Noodle with Grilled Chicken and Spring Roll - S$9.80
Mango with Glutinous Rice - S$4.50
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Additional Information 
It's halal, my Muslim friends! 

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